DOJ Seeks 25-Year Prison Sentence for Oath Keepers Founder for Role in Jan. 6 Attack on U.S. Capitol

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

The Justice Department asked a federal judge on Friday to sentence Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes to 25 years in prison for his conviction on seditious conspiracy and other charges related to the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump.


The DOJ also sought 21 years for Oath Keepers leader Kelly Meggs, who was also convicted of seditious conspiracy and other charges related to the attack that unfolded as electors gathered inside the Capitol to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election.

As reported by Reuters:

Rhodes and Meggs are among 10 members of far-right groups found guilty of seditious conspiracy — a plot to oppose the government with force – for their roles in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, which was an attempt to overturn Democratic President Joe Biden’s 2020 election win.

If fully imposed, the recommended sentences would be the longest so far for anyone convicted in connection with the Capitol riot. Prosecutors said the defendants “played a central and damning role” in the attack and should be sentenced more severely than other rioters because their conduct was comparable to domestic terrorism.


Meggs’ lawyer asked for a term of no more than 28 months in prison. Rhodes did not file his sentencing recommendation on Friday.

NOTE: The above block quote contains verbatim excerpts from Reuters, Its inclusion does not suggest I agree or disagree.

My colleague Brittany Sheehan has reported extensively on the Jan. 6 trial of the far-right group Proud Boys, including in late April about a jailhouse interview with former Proud Boys Chairman Enrique Tarrio as he awaited the verdict. In comments about why Proud Boy defendants refused to take the stand, Tarrio explained (as transcribed by Sheehan):


We wanted to talk about January 6; that’s what we wanted to talk about. But what was happening is on these cross-examinations, they were bringing things from years past. Anything that I said, you know, ranging from 2015, 2016, 2017, is fair game and it has nothing to do with January 6.

So, we were afraid that they were just going to use statements, old statements, and just try to muddy up the waters when at the end of the day, what we are trying to do is get to the bottom of what happened on January 6.


We can talk about things in general, me, myself, in general, some of the guys in general, I guess the Proud Boys in general. You know, actually, you know what? It’s not just Proud Boys, it’s Americans in general. We said a lot of things, especially in our club, we said a lot of things. …

And what they were trying to do, what people were trying to … again I’m speaking in general… is manipulate how we talk to each other in the locker room and it’s not fair, it really isn’t. We’re proud of it, we aren’t shying away from it but the problem is, it’s being used … but it’s being used against other people and it’s just not right. It’s not the justice system that we grew up in civics class learning about.

Tarrio went on to say that the House’s majority-Democrat January 6 Committee was “weaponized” — which any rational person not a Democrat could clearly see, and suggested that henceforth, (non-leftist) people will be afraid to protest.


Yeah, I’ll be honest…if I was people… you know, I’m realistic. I try to be as realistic as possible. If I was people out there, if I was you guys, I’d be afraid. I would be afraid, because if you go out there… and maybe based on the decision of what happens in this trial, the very trial that I’m in… and you go out there and say the wrong thing, you might go to jail. Now, can I tell you is that the reason to stay home? Probably not. I think we have to be smarter.

And what happened in the trial, as Sheehan also reported, was that five defendants — Enrique Tarrio, Dominic Pezzola, Joesph Biggs, Ethan Nordean, and Zachary Rhel were charged in a ten-count indictment, including three charges of conspiracy, with the most serious charge of seditious conspiracy carrying a maximum penalty of twenty years in federal prison.

As my colleague Bob Hoge reported in November, the aforementioned Oath Keepers members Rhodes and Meggs were convicted on the rarely used, Civil War-era charge of seditious conspiracy for their roles in the Jan. 6 Capitol “festivities.” Rhodes was determined to have been the “mastermind of the plot” to block the Electoral College certification, an admitted attempt to interfere with the transfer of the presidency from Donald Trump to Joe Biden.


And as I reported in January, four more Oath Keepers members —  Roberto Minuta, Joseph Hackett, David Moerschel, and Edward Vallejo — were convicted of the same crime, in addition to obstruction of an official proceeding and conspiring to obstruct.

Scott Weinberg, David Moerschel’s attorney, rejected the conspiracy conviction, telling reporters his client and the others were simply “swept up” by the goings-on:

[They] were swept up by the ‘Stop the Steal‘ nonsense that was pushed by the president. While people are responsible for their own actions, I think it’s important that all people take stock [and] take everything with a grain of salt, because when you follow somebody blindly, you end up in a terrible situation.

Now, I wasn’t involved in any of the actions or private discussions of Proud Boys or Oath Keepers members, and I certainly wasn’t involved in any of the trials — and, in all likelihood, neither was anyone reading this article — so rather than join keyboard jockeys across America who somehow have  “correct” opinions on the 2020 presidential election, Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol and subsequent trials, I will say only this:

Irrespective of TDS-riddled Nancy Pelosi, House Democrats, and their ridiculous Jan 6. Committee, I’m confident that the U.S. Judicial  System intended to send a clear message that those dissatisfied with the results of presidential elections don’t have the right to attack the United States Capitol.


Protests are fine — breaching the Capitol and attempting to stop the Electoral College certification is not.

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